Professional wakeboarder Phil Soven is a busy man these days. When he’s not competing in the Pro Wakeboard Tour or King of the Wake, the 24-year-old Florida native is helping bring the sport to millions of MTV viewers thanks to his reality show WakeBrothers. With the help of his brother Bob, the Soven’s have been two of the biggest pioneers in getting the sport more mainstream.
Having grown up in Florida, Soven’s home is just outside of Tampa and he resides there almost year-round, which might explain why the three-time King of the Wake champion enjoys competing in the Red Bull Wake Open. Wake Open, which is part of Red Bull’s Signature Series, is once again returning to the Tampa Convention Center and Knights Point at Harbour Island and will feature 36 riders – representing seven countries – competing in Cable, Big Air, and Park disciplines. Last year, Soven was unable to claim any of the top spots but this year he hopes to change all of that.
Here are some of the highlights from the inaugural Wake Open last July:
We recently had the chance to speak with Soven about the upcoming event, what it’s like to perform so close to home and how he’s enjoying being a reality star. Wake Open will take place Friday, July 5 from 3:00-8:00 p.m. ET and Saturday, July 6 from 12:00-6:00 p.m. ET.
And be sure to catch all of the action live Saturday, July 6 at 4:00 p.m. ET on NBC.
CraveOnline: Could you explain the upcoming Red Bull Wake Open Event?
Phil Soven: Wake Open is a contest that brings multiple aspects of wakeboarding together in three criteria. There will be a boat event, a rail park event, and a big air kicker event.
The boat event will take place behind a Malibu MXZ 22 and promises to see some of the best riding to date. The rail park event will feature a setup of different rail pulls on a System 2 cable. The big air event will feature a new addition with a ramp-to-ramp obstacle. At the end of the contest an overall champion will be awarded to the rider who places the highest in all three combined criteria.
Crave: What brought you back again this year?
Soven: Last year I had a little bit of an upset, not placing well. I am excited to come back this year and throw down. Riding behind the Malibu MXZ for the boat event is a great addition. Without a doubt, that boat makes the best wake in the business!
Crave: Having grown up just outside of Tampa, what's it like to compete basically in front of your hometown?
Soven: It’s always nice to have an event close to home, but I try not to let that change my mental state. I go into the event taking it like any other city. That being said, the extra boost of having a hometown setting is always a huge plus, especially when the local fans, friends and family come out to show their support.
Crave: You've pretty much done it all over the course of your career. Is there a specific event that stands out as your favorite?
Soven: I can't pick just one event as the one above all. Every time you finish the weekend standing on top of the podium, it's a new favorite.
Crave: What conditions do you find are the best for you to compete at your highest level?
Soven: Anytime we have flat water, no wind, warm weather and a good wake like the Malibu MXZ, it's ideal. I try to compete at my highest level regardless of the conditions. I think that's what separates the exceptional from the average – the ability to perform in any condition. To me, I always have my best performance when my back is against the wall and the odds are against me. I love those moments when it's do-or-die. I feel like it brings out that extra something in me.
Crave: Where are some of your favorite places to practice?
Soven: Nothing beats the comfort of my own backyard!
Crave: You've help put Wakeboarding on the map with your MTV reality show WakeBrothers. What's that experience been like?
Soven: That was a double edged sword. It was great to be able to bring more fans into the sport and I'm happy I did that, although with the show itself, I felt, portrayed me as somebody I'm not and I wasn't very happy with that. I guess that's just the way it goes. At the end of the day it helped grow the sport and that's what matters.
Crave: With the cameras constantly following you around, was it cool to get all your practice tricks filmed?
Soven: I try to film as much as I can and put out videos online but there are definitely days that I feel like I just want to put my head down and do my thing. Sometimes it's great having cameras around all the time – sometimes you just want a little break. There's really not much to complain about either way.
Crave: Will there be another season?
Soven: We will not be doing another season of the TV show. Maybe some time in the future we could do a new show with a different network and change up the plot, but for now I’m focusing on what really matters to me – wakeboarding.
Photo via YouTube